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A Guide to Eating Healthy During Pregnancy

Your diet is never more important than when you’re pregnant, but cravings, food aversions and morning sickness can make healthy eating a challenge. As an expectant mother, the foods you eat are your child’s primary source of nourishment, which is why it’s so critical to consume the right vitamins and minerals and avoid potentially harmful bacteria.

Eating well during pregnancy is not about weight loss (in fact, trying to lose weight could be hazardous to you and your baby’s health). However, being mindful of what you eat will help you avoid gaining too much weight and keep conditions like gestational diabetes at bay. With this in mind, here are some top tips for a healthy, prenatal diet.

Unless you have an eating disorder or you’ve struggled with calorie counting in the past, keeping track of your pregnancy diet can help to make sure you’re eating enough while avoiding excessive weight gain. Sadly, the old “eating for two” adage is just a myth, although you may well experience a surge in appetite!

According to The American Pregnancy Association (APA), most pregnant mothers need to consume an extra 300 calories per day. However, the most important thing is that you eat when you’re hungry, don’t let your blood sugar dip, and make healthy choices that include a variety of different food groups.

Food Groups
Eating a variety of food groups will make sure you and your baby get the nutrients you need and keep your muscles, organs, and brain working effectively. The APA suggests at least 2-4 servings of fruit and 4 or more servings of vegetables every day, which is why many women opt for smoothies to get their daily dose. Pregnant mothers should also consume 27mg of protein, 6-11 ounces of whole grains daily (including bread, fortified cereals and pasta), as well as 1000mg of calcium from dairy products or plant-based equivalents.

Vitamins and Supplements
In addition to a varied diet, pregnant women also need 70 mg of vitamin C and 0.4mg of folic acid per day to assist a healthy pregnancy and help prevent birth defects. You can find these nutrients in foods like oranges, grapefruits, broccoli, and tomatoes (vitamin C); and legumes, black lima beans, green leafy vegetables, and veal (folic acid). However, most doctors recommend that women take supplements during pregnancy to ensure they’re getting the vitamins they need.

Foods to Avoid
It’s no secret that you shouldn’t smoke or drink alcohol during pregnancy, but certain foods are off-limits too. According to the APA, expectant mothers should avoid raw meats, deli meat, sushi, shellfish, unpasteurized dairy, uncooked egg, soft cheeses, and caffeine.

Most women find out they’re expecting at around 7 weeks pregnant or before. If the pregnancy was unplanned, they often worry that the damage has already been done by the food and drink they consumed before they found out they were pregnant. However, studies suggest that the risks are actually lower in those first few weeks than during the remainder of the pregnancy.

This doesn’t mean you should drink alcohol or eat foods you know you should avoid, as both of these things can sadly trigger miscarriage. However, if your baby is healthy at seven or eight weeks despite what you did before you found out you were expecting, chances are the baby has suffered no ill-effects and you have plenty of chance and time to nurture your health.

I am no expert when it comes to dieting, let alone diet for pregnancy, but at least these are what worked for me during my pregnancy.

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